Lucy Hutchinson and the Cultures, Politics, and Historiography of the English Revolution (seminar)

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This was a spring 2019 faculty weekend seminar led by David Norbrook

Since its publication in 1806, Lucy Hutchinson’s Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson has enabled a compelling, and highly moralistic, vision of the seventeenth century as a long-term struggle between the forces of progress and reaction. What was more or less invisible in this narrative was the author herself. Now that the full range of her writings is known, as part of a wider recovery of writings by women, this seminar will ask how far the new perspectives undermine, or perhaps refresh, the older grand narratives. Topics to be discussed will include: the relations between personal and familial writings and narratives of the Civil War; the role of the Memoirs in shaping the later historiography of the Revolution; secularization and the Puritanism of the Revolution (with special reference to the Lucretius translation); self-identification with social groups (gentry and otherwise) and the interplay with gender identity; ideologies and practices of companionate marriage; the relations between theological positions and political affiliations; biblical poetics; manuscript and print networks and their relationships with gendered networks of friendship; republican liberty and international slavery. Participants will relate Hutchinson’s writings to her own reading in classical and contemporary literature and political thought and to contemporaries, including Cavendish, Clarendon, Harrington, and Milton.

Lucy Hutchinson and the Cultures, Politics, and Historiography of the English Revolution

Director: David Norbrook is Emeritus Merton Professor of English, University of Oxford. He is general editor of The Works of Lucy Hutchinson (volume 1, The Translation of Lucretius, with Reid Barbour, 2012; volume 2, Theological Writings and Translations, with Elizabeth Clarke and Jane Stevenson, 2018).